Jealousy. Conspiracy. Loyalty. And the masterful music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart propels La Clemenza di Tito, a story of intrigue, remorse, and fragile redemption presented by UNDERCROFT OPERA, Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25, Seton Center Auditorium, 1900 Pioneer Ave., in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Brookline (15226). Tickets and information at: www.undercroftopera.org. Call 412.422.7919.
Undercroft Opera presents a surprising Mozart treasure, one of two operas completed by the composer in 1791, the last year of his life. La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), on the life of Roman emperor Titus, is a work that emerges with the timely themes of ambition, power and romantic passion. The New York Times has written this Mozart work “filled with great and glorious music…speaks to concerns that are ours.”
“Undercroft Opera chose this Mozart opera for its relevance to today’s global political scene and its wonderfully rich music—arias, choruses and marches not heard of often as the composer’s better-know works,” says founder Mary Beth Sederburg. “Our Tito is one of two full productions opening in February, and likely one of very few to be presented in North America in 2012.” Fully staged, Tito is directed by Patrick Brannan and accompanied by the Undercroft Orchestra, conducted by Walter Morales. A cast of six plus chorus performed in Italian with English surtitles.
Admission is $20-35, with discounts for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted at half price ($12-17). Tickets are on sale at www.undercroftopera.org and at the door.
The Story of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito
Vitellia, the daughter of the former emperor, uses her admirer Sesto in a plot to remove the beloved Emperor Tito, who does not return her affections. She sets off a tragic and unpredictable chain of events. A fire, confusion and revelation move Mozart’s work towards a heart-breaking and surprising conclusion. This fascinating opera was first performed in 1791, but its timeless themes transport audiences to the dangerous days of 80 A.D. Rome where power struggles and betrayal characterize the landscape of politics and love.
Featuring a company of 12 singers appearing as six characters over two performances, Undercroft’s La Clemenza di Tito is staged by Patrick Brannan, with Walter Morales conducting the Undercroft Opera Orchestra.
Tito (Titus, Emperor of Rome, A.D. 79-81) is sung by Seth Gruber and Enrique Bernardo. Candice Shaughnessy and Kelly Lynch sing the role of Vitellia, daughter of the deposed Emperor Vitellius. The role of Sesto, a friend of Titus and in love with Vitellia, is sung by Jenifer Weber and Melissa Bailey. The cast also includes: Gail Novak and Leah Dyer as Servilia, sister of Sesto; Adele Grabowski and Loghan Bazan as Annio, Sesto’s friend and in love with Servilia; and Zach Luchetti as Publio, commander of the Imperial Guard.
The Undercroft Opera Chorus portrays Senators, Ambassadors, Imperial Guards, officials, and citizens. The artistic team includes: Chorus Master/Harpsichordist – William Larson; Costume Designer – Robin Geisler; Set/Lighting Designer – Neil Sederburg; and Stage Manager – Kirsten Rispin.
About the Opera
In 2012, Madrid’s Teatro Real’s presentation of the Salzburg Festivals’ production runs Feb. 14-March, including the same weekend as Undercroft’s production. It’s one of around a dozen productions of Tito around the world this year.
Historically, La Clemenza di Tito (K. 621) was commissioned for a premiere performed, a few hours after the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II as the King of Bohemia in Prague 1701, a few months before Mozart died. The composer was well into work on one of his most popular operas The Magic Flute when the request came. Mozart set an existing Italian libretto to create this opera seria. Tito has been praised for capturing an era of cultural and governmental transitions—a time when people question the mores reflected in varied segments of their world.
Perhaps one of Mozart’s’ lesser-known operas, Tito has been produced consistently and enjoys recent reappraisal of its place in the canon. While the opera may have been rewritten under pressure of deadlines and exhaustion, its plot reflects political realities and its music expresses the juxtaposition of human emotion and political intrigue—timeless themes that speak to turbulent times of transition.
Tito was the first Mozart opera to reach London, receiving its première there at His Majesty’s Theatre on 27 March 1806, then at La Scala in 1818. Its North American premiere was in 1952 at Tanglewood; London has a production in 1957. Now, La Clemenza di Tito is in production in major cities around the world during 2012.
About Undercroft Opera
Undercroft Opera exclusively showcases local talent in traditional operatic productions. The vision of Undercroft, founded in 2006, is to provide Pittsburgh area singers and instrumentalists with an artistic outlet and a greater sense of community, while giving Pittsburgh audience members the opportunity to discover and experience the operatic talent that is literally in their own backyard.
Photos and additional details availalble upon request.